Autumn colour is a natural tonic to beating the winter blues

New research from the National Trust has found that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk makes people feel happier, healthier and calmer (84%) at a time when more than 40% admit to feeling down as the nights draw in.

The conservation charity released the findings as part of its Great NI Walk 2014, which launched this week with an invitation to enjoy a rainbow of walks. Shades of blue you find on walks by water or when the landscape is coloured by the evening’s darkening sky were found to help soothe away stress (36%), while the greens of hilltops and pine woodlands leave people feeling more connected with the natural world (52%).

Renowned colour psychologist, Angela Wright, was commissioned to produce a report alongside the findings assessing the importance of autumnal colours experienced in different environmental landscapes.

Angela said: “Natural colour schemes can inspire us and lift our spirits. Autumn, combined with the rich light at this time of the year, is a flamboyant blaze of intense colours with each affecting us in a different way.

“People are more susceptible to the effects of aesthetic influences in the natural world than to any other colour sources.

“Fresh air, exercise and the sense of getting away from it all play a positive role in improving our well-being. However, it’s the colours that we experience which are the most powerful tonic to affecting our mood.”

Despite more than 70% of people finding that autumn walks help to combat winter blues, almost half (48%) admit to not going on enough walks during the autumn months with almost a third (32%) claiming it’s because they rarely get the chance to go on a stroll.

National Trust Wildlife and Countryside Adviser, Phil Davidson, said: “Autumn bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time to see nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.

“This season is the perfect time of year for walking. The trees and landscape start to turn every shade imaginable which lifts your spirits; it’s cooler, but not cold, and you could get a misty morning with those familiar damp smells or a clear, crisp day when everything appears to shine brighter.

“The National Trust looks after some beautiful gardens and landscapes, and our role as a conservation charity is to maintain these fantastic places.”

To help encourage more people to make the most of the autumn palette the National Trust has unveiled its top walks inspired by the colours of autumn. Chosen by Trust rangers, they showcase the rainbow of colours and scenery that can be enjoyed across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this September and October.